Map Commentaries

  • The Distinctive “Homännische” Style of Early German Mapping

    Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) was a prominent German map engraver and publisher. There is little information on his upbringing, but it is believed that he was self-taught as a copper engraver (French 2001, 361). After working for several printing...

  • Maine in the Most Successful U.S. Atlas of the Nineteenth Century

    Samuel Augustus Mitchell was one of the most successful American map publishers of the nineteenth century. Born in Bristol, Conn., in 1792, Mitchell grew up to be a teacher. It is believed that, finding the existing geography textbooks to be substand...

  • The Road from York to Lancaster

    This strip map of the road between York and Lancaster, across England’s Pennine Mountains, was made as part of John Ogilby’s Britannia (1675), which systematically mapped the roads of England and Wales for the first time. This and the other maps ...

  • Mapping Social Hierarchies onto the City of Edo

    It is possible to understand something of a map’s intended socio-political purpose by analyzing its physical construction and the ideological messages it contains within the appropriate historical context. Take for example the map Bansei on Edo ezu...

  • An Early European Imagining of Japan

    Once a people learn how to visually express their cognitive understanding of the lands and worlds that they inhabit, it is perhaps inevitable that some among them will turn their mind’s eye towards the larger areas surrounding their immediate home....

  • Mapping the Iroquois and the Disputed Ohio Valley in 1755

    A General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America (Philadelphia, 1755) was drawn by Lewis Evans and printed from a copper plate engraved by James Turner.  The map’s coverage extends from Montreal, New France, to the northeast, south as f...

  • When is a Chart not a Chart?

    John Green, A Chart of North and South America, including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with the Nearest Coasts of Europe, Africa, and Asia (London: Thomas Jefferys, 1753)a...

  • Maps as Commodities

    “A New and Correct Map of the World Projected upon the Plane of the Horizon laid down from the Newest Discoveries and most Exact Observations By C. Price Sold by G Willdey at the Great Toy Shop next the Dog Tavern in Ludgate where may be had severa...

  • Napoleonic Plan of Boulogne’s Defenses

    This anonymous manuscript (i.e., hand-drawn) map exemplifies the detailed maps of landscapes and fortifications that were prepared by European military engineers throughout the eighteenth century. The extensive interchange of engineers among the armi...

  • “The World Map with Explanations of Lands and Oceans”

    The anonymous Bankoku yochi sankai zusetsu [“The World Map with Explanations of Lands and Oceans”] was published in Japan in about 1850. It features a world map, on an oval projection, descriptive text, and a globe. It is one of many similar worl...